General Counsel Insight

Miguel R. Rivera Sr.

Miguel R. Rivera Sr.

Rivera is a former general counsel and commissioner of labor.

Reminding Ourselves and Our Teams Why We Do This

May/June 2016 -FACE IT, IN THE ROUGH AND TUMBLE THAT is the practice of law—the day-to-day pressure and the long hours—it is sometimes easy to get lost in the shuffle and lose sight of why we do this. Complicated issues, no easy answers in the law, fact-complex scenarios, angry clients, obnoxious adversaries and political pressures can easily and frequently do drown out the better angels of our nature and contribute significantly to our forgetting why we became lawyers in the first place and why we do this. It happens to the general counsel, and it happens to our staffs and lawyers. It’s important that during these times, as leaders and the people many will look to for an example of how they should act during times of stress, we remember why we do this and stay positive. Here is what I remind myself during hard times.

by Miguel R. Rivera Sr.

Some Things to Consider When Hiring Outside Counsel

March/April 2016 - RETAINING AND MANAGING GOOD OUTSIDE COUNSEL is one of the most important functions a general counsel will perform. Yet so frequently, the choice of outside counsel is made based on past friendships, default choices based on past practice or a desire to ensure that one’s career is protected with the board of directors—i.e., “if I hire a big and expensive law firm and the matter goes south, I have protection.”

by Miguel R. Rivera Sr.

Dealing with Conflict in the Executive Suite

January/February 2016 - It’s never a good feeling to have conflict or disagreement between the general counsel and the executive suite, but it’s going to happen. How the general counsel deals with conflict will speak volumes about her effectiveness and ability to influence decision-making after the fact. The last thing the general counsel wants is to become irrelevant, or worse yet, avoided. Here are some things you can do to help manage the fall-out and increase the odds of coming out of the conflict in a good position to influence decisions moving forward.

by Miguel R. Rivera Sr.

Creating and Sustaining an Effective Partnership with the Business

November/December 2015 - NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT TO THE EFFECTIVENESS of an in-house attorney than the relationship she forms with her business partners. The relationship between outside counsel and the business client is one of contract and choice and is primarily a managed business affiliation. However, the in-house attorney’s relationship with the business client is direct and personal and not one that leaves the business client with much of a realistic choice. The in-house attorney must be cognizant of this difference and work deliberately to maintain a solid and close relationship with the business.

by Miguel R. Rivera Sr.

Creating an Effective Law Department Culture

September/October 2015 - ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ACTIONS a general counsel can take when she first sits in the big chair is to think hard about the existing culture in her law department and how to create a more effective culture that works well with her style and personality. But as with a great many things, this is much easier said than done. Cultures do not develop overnight and, almost by definition, it takes more than one person to effectively create a culture—thus complicating exponentially the work the general counsel must do.

by Miguel R. Rivera Sr.

Good Decision-Making: Turning Ambiguity Into Actionable Legal Advice

July/August 2015 - LET’S FACE IT, practicing law is not like taking a law school final exam. Rarely do the legal issues, questions and facts come so neatly wrapped to allow the attorney to quickly and easily apply her legal skills and analytical ability to resolve the client’s issues. Business problems and corporate strategies can result in significant legal issues, complex regulatory compliance issues and the need for a combined business and legal eye to prevent legal problems down the road. The lawyer who can best tease out the facts and identify issues is the lawyer who gives the most value to the business client.

by Miguel R. Rivera Sr.

A GC’s Top Five Rules for Outside Counsel

May/June 2015 - THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OUTSIDE counsel and the general counsel can be extremely rewarding, successful and long-lasting, or the relationship can be frustrating, short term and oppositional. Much depends on how the two interact and define the relationship. Good, long-term relationships are built on trusted partnerships that meet the company’s needs cost effectively and efficiently.

by Miguel R. Rivera Sr.

The General Counsel: Advisor, Confidant, Partner and Advocate

March/April 2015 - THE ROLE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL in today’s modern company is a complex and challenging one. Becoming general counsel frequently means that being “the lawyer” is just a small part of the role and forms the least of the expectations of those in the executive suite. Don’t get me wrong, the executive suite expects the GC to be “the lawyer” but assumes that being a lawyer is in the DNA. The roles the GC plays are far more varied and complex. In the same 10-hour day a GC is advisor, confidant, partner and advocate.

by Miguel R. Rivera Sr.

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Featured Columnist

DeAnna D. Allen

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Career Evolution

Alonzo L. Llorens Alonzo L. Llorens
Business Transactions
Miguel Rivera Sr. Miguel Rivera Sr.
General Counsel Insight
Ruthie White Ruthie White
Diverse Professional
Craig A. Thompson, Esq. Craig A. Thompson, Esq.
Litigation Matters


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